Another critical part of your tire is the tread, which gives you the traction to stop and hold the road on curves. Tire tread also funnels water out from under the tire, which helps to reduce hydroplaning, where a car actually rides up on a layer of water and becomes dangerously difficult to steer or stop. Well-worn or bald tires can result in hydroplaning, loss of traction and are more likely to be damaged by potholes and other road hazards.
Replace tires when worn to 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread depth anywhere on the tread face. To help you see when the tread is worn out, tires have a built in "tread wear indicators" at six locations around the tire. These are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread.
When the tread is even with the bars, a tire is worn down to 2/32 inch and the tire must be replaced immediately.
You can also try the penny test. 2/32 of an inch deep and can be checked by inserting a U.S. penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, it is time to replace the tire.
In addition to wear out, if any of the following conditions below are found when inspecting a tire, rim/wheel or valve, the tire should be replaced.
- Localized spot wear
- Exposed cord or fabric material
- Unrepairable punctures
- Previous improper repairs
- Bulges, blisters
- Deep cuts/cracks
- Run flat damage
- Bent, cracked, corroded or damaged rim/wheel
- Damaged valve and/or valve core
Consult a tire service professional with any questions or concerns regarding tire, rim/wheel or valve conditions.
Learn about tire safety.